Well its been a few days since our last update as we have been busy, busy, busy…
Our destination this time has been Saigon; a city, like New York, which is so good they named it twice ! So no matter your preference – here is our 48 hours in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City.
After landing from Hue we went directly to the Củ Chi tunnel complex.
The tunnels of Củ Chi are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located about an hour and half outside Saigon, and are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country. The Củ Chi tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War, and were the Viet Cong’s base of operations for the Tet Offensive in 1968.
The tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces, and helped to counter the growing American military effort. And they are small, very small. We did a 20m stretch and it was enough,
Also around the tunnel complex are some artefacts of the Vietnam War, including IEDs that the Viet Cong constructed from reclaimed US cluster bombs. Not a job for the faint hearted I’m sure.
We then returned to Saigon and checked into our hotel where we found we were entitled to free drinks and canapés in the Club lounge ! So no sooner can you drop two suitcases and jump in the shower we were off !
The next morning we started at 0900 for a full day tour around the city. Our first stop was the Reunification Palace, which was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
The Palace has an interesting past as on 8 April 1975, Nguyễn Thanh Trung, a pilot of the Vietnam Air Force and an undetected communist spy, flew an F-5E aircraft from Bien How Air Base to bomb the palace. It was also the site of the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates.
Next stop was Chinatown so we could visit the Thien Hau Temple which is a Chinese-style temple of the Chinese sea goddess Mazu. Mazu was originally a medieval Fujianese girl who was deified after being credited with saving her family members from harm during a typhoon through her spiritual powers. So just to be on the safe side, Sue lit some incense for you all! And so if you are ever in trouble on water (or perhaps even in a deep bathtub) then feel free to call on Mazu as you have some credit in the bank 🙂
Then it was a quick jaunt around the busy, hot and humid market, ignoring the pushy (or sometimes incredibly bored) sellers ! Needless to say we didn’t buy anything, although the coffee that had been first eaten by a squirrel did tempt me. No prizes for guessing which end of the squirrel the resultant coffee beans were ejected….
After this it was a quick visit to Notre-Dame Cathedral or the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon or officially the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception – depending on who you are talking to! It was established by French colonists and was constructed between 1863 and 1880. For the campanologists amongst you it has two bell towers, reaching a height of 58 meters. Ding Dong ! Inside it was a relatively plain affair; very different from those in the West.
Next up was the Saigon Central Post Office. The building was constructed when Vietnam was part of French Indochina in the late 19th century. It has Gothic, Renaissance and French influences and was constructed between 1886-1891. It is a fantastic building, and they will even wrap your parcels for you!
And with that under our belts, we felt that we had earned a decent drink at the hotel before our night time plans…a Vespa food tour around Saigon !
The tour was absolutely amazing. We weaved our way in and out of traffic, through fumes, to the sounds of engines and blaring horns, as we travelled from one street restaurant to the next.
We ate crab, clams, mussels and frogs legs, plus various salads, wraps and rolls 🙂
We ended the evening by visiting two music venues for more drinks and relaxation before hoping on the bikes and heading back to the hotel.
Thanks Saigon! You were our last port of call in Vietnam and it was a blast 🙂